This year I’m banding with a cool group of authors at SteamTeam Books to talk about and share our STEAM titles for kids releasing this year. Next up is the stunning board book, LOVE UNDER THE STARS (Mudpuppy, March 19 2024) by Katy Tanis. I caught up with Katy to learn more:

Me: Congratulations on your beautiful new book, LOVE UNDER THE STARS! I love how it combines animals at night with ways animals care for each other. What inspired you to write this book?

Katy: The first book in the series, Love in the Wild, came to be after I researched animals that exhibited LGBTQ+ behaviors, so I could paint a coming out gift for my cousin. There are so many heart-warming animal love stories I thought deserved to be highlighted and they didn’t all fit in the first book! I’ve always been fascinated by nocturnal animals, so I already knew some good love stories for that group. Whenever I travel, I take at least one nighttime forest walk (usually with guides because I am fascinated but also scared of the dark forests). I also love the way rainbow colors pop off black backgrounds, so I thought that would make a nice cover.


Me: How did you pick the animals? And how did you choose who got an entire spread or page vs. the forest scene at the end?

Katy: I wanted animals that had interesting love stories, but also wanted to make sure I had some diversity in the animals I chose. I LOVE nocturnal primates, so it was a battle with myself to not make the entire book about them! Animals who got their own spreads had unique behaviors I wanted to highlight, could make interesting illustrations, and worked in the rhyme scheme. That last spread was where a lot of the animals I didn’t get to feature elsewhere lived. I also specifically chose animals that sleep in tree holes for that spread.


Me: How did you get into creating books for kids?

Katy: I have answered this question quite a few times now in different interviews. And I doubt I have given the same answer every time. Because it seemed the many career paths I was exploring all eventually led to creating children’s books. In short, it’s a good mix of art, science, curiosity, and storytelling.

Me: The illustrations are stunning; I’m sure you’ll get a lot of love for the colors. What’s your illustration process?

Katy: I often use local library and bookstore art shows to explore a concept in images before I write any text. So quite a few of these illustrations started as pieces for art shows or personal art pieces before the book ever came together. I then adapt them for the size and format of the book. So many of these artworks start as real paintings and are redrawn digitally. Digital is clean and graphic which is nice for young readers. These days I mostly work on my iPad but I love layers so it’s a lot of back and forth between the ArtStudioPro on my iPad and Photoshop on my desktop.


Me: Can you share what you’re working on next?

Katy: I am currently working on the third book in this series, Love Under the Sea.

Me: Can’t wait to see it! Thank you so much, Katy. Wishing your book much success!

To learn more, please go to Katy’s site, Daughter Earth.

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